Judge Clears Chase of Fiduciary Breach Charges

September 16, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge has cleared officials at Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation of fiduciary breach charges in connection with a lawsuit by an employee who claims the firm mishandled its long-term disability (LTD) program.

US District Judge R. Barclay Surrick of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of Chase Manhattan after a two-day trial before the court in August.

Plaintiff Joseph Hussey alleged that the company breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by “fail[ing] to convey complete and accurate information regarding the benefits for which he was eligible” and the “steps to be taken to enroll in those benefits.” Specifically, Hussey alleged that defendants breached their fiduciary duties by misrepresenting and/or omitting important information about his eligibility for the company’s LTD excess plan.

Following a trial Surrick ruled:

  • that there was insufficient evidence of any fiduciary misrepresentation regarding his eligibility for supplemental coverage
  • that the information provided by the employer more than adequately explained the supplemental coverage and its enrollment procedures
  • that the delivery methods used to provide information to the employee (hand-delivery, inter-office mail, and e-mail) were “more than sufficient to ensure that [the employee] received the relevant plan materials” regarding his eligibility for the supplemental coverage.

Last month, Hussey won the right to present evidence that the company’s human resources department was “disorganized or dysfunctional”  (See  Ex-Chase Worker Wins Legal Round in LTD Dispute). Surrick’s latest ruling is  here .